Tiger Woods has made the turn with a three-shot lead in the final round of the 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Woods had momentarily extended his lead to four shots with a birdie on the sixth hole to move to 14-under, but his first bogey of the day dropped him back to 13-under after nine holes. The sixth hole was his second birdie of the day on the front nine par-5s at Bay Hill, and it might be all he needs coming in as the rest of the field fails to make a charge.
Tiger has always owned the par-5s during his career, particularly at Bay Hill. It's historically been his path to victory -- stack up red numbers on the par-5s, extend the lead, and cruise in for victory on Sunday (or Monday). At the time, Keegan Bradley was trying to make Woods sweat and momentarily closed the margin to two, but Tiger quickly matched him with the birdie at the par-5 sixth. There was little question he would keep his multi-shot cushion throughout the front nine, and the one hope for the field was that he missed the opportunities on the par-5s.
Tiger's four-shot lead did not last long, however, as he gave one back on the eighth hole. It started with a wayward tee ball that ended up wedged behind a tree trunk. As Woods approached his ball and saw the lie, he let out a loud f-bomb, realizing he had no shot at the green. The broadcast picked up the language and of course Johnny Miller was on the spot with important use of the telestrator:
Tiger with a loud f-bomb and Johnny Miller puts the telestrator to use twitter.com/BrendanPorath/…— Brendan (@BrendanPorath) March 25, 2013
Woods did not even think about a hero shot, and wasted little time knocking his ball out into the middle of the fairway. He came close to getting up-and-down to save par, but a 10-foot putt burned the edge and he fell back to 13-under.
But as has been the case through the first three months of the season, no one is challenging Tiger in the final round. The bogey did not decrease the four-shot lead with Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Keegan Bradley also falling back to 9-under. Rickie Fowler, who is playing with Tiger, drained a lengthy birdie putt on the ninth to take solo second at 10-under. But Fowler has looked shaky all day and it's unlikely he will threaten his playing partner on the back nine.
This is the classic route for Tiger -- a final round multi-shot cushion and a steady cruise into the clubhouse for the win. While he's been wild off the tee, it's hard to see him giving away this lead and things getting tight on the back side, especially with no one around him making a charge.
Here's a current snapshot of the top of the board, as well as some other notables still finishing up on Monday:
For a full leaderboard, visit Golf.com.